Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Surah Al Baqarah Ayahs 58-64

In the next set of ayahs, Allah (SWT) continues to discuss the benefits bestowed upon the Bani Israel. The reason why Allah mentions these people and the blessings in the Quran is to teach us a lesson. The Bani Israel turning away from Allah does not affect Him in anyway, but it does affect the people.

Verse 58 states, "And (remember) when We said: "Enter this town (Jerusalem) and eat bountifully therein with pleasure and delight wherever you wish, and enter the gate in prostration (or bowing with humility) and say: 'Forgive us,' and We shall forgive you your sins and shall increase (reward) for the good-doers."
The Bani Israel were told to go enjoy themselves in this city, but with the condition that they enter in a humble manner while saying "Forgive us", or "Hi'tattun", as it is said in Arabic. However, when entering, they changed the word Allah told them to say as stated in the next ayah, "But the transgressors changed the word from that which had been given them; so We sent on the transgressors a plague from heaven, for that they infringed (our command) repeatedly." Instead of saying "Hi'tattun", which means "forgive us", they said "Hintattuan", which means "wheat". They were calling upon the food that they were expecting to eat. Because of this, a plague descended upon them in which 70,000 people died. Not all of the Bani Israel were wrongdoers, there were some who were sincere and obeyed Allah. However, when a calamity strikes a place, it's because the wrongdoers are punished for their ways, and the righteous have a quicker means to meet their Lord. Allah does not punish a group of people until they bring the punishment on to themselves. Allah (SWT) actually makes excuses after excuses for us to enter Jannah and forgive our sins, but hardships are sent as a reminder to remember life after death.

In the following verse, Allah mentions another blessing which was bestowed upon the Bani Israel, that being the water which Musa (AS) prayed for for his people. Allah said to Musa (AS), "'Strike with your staff the stone.' And there gushed forth from it twelve springs." The 12 springs were for the 12 different tribes with him. Allah then told them to, "Eat and drink from the provision of Allah, and do not commit abuse on the earth, spreading corruption." In the valley of Teeh, the Bani Israel lacked water, so they told Musa (AS) to pray for water. Allah then told Musa (AS) to hit his staff on a particular rock, thereby creating 12 springs which gushed forth. This miracle also aims to strengthen the faith of the group of people present at that time there. This is also a blessing.

Then the Bani Israel said to Musa (AS), that "We can never be patient with one kind of food", and told him to call upon Allah to give them things such as green herbs, cucumbers, garlic, lentils and onions. This again showed their ungratefulness with what they had, and they were not being humble, constantly complaining. This earned Allah's anger, because they were continuously transgressing. They were tired of the blessing Allah had given them of manna and salwa, and said they cannot endure this any longer, and wanted more variety in food, even though they were being punished for not fighting against those who conquered Syria, and backing out. Also, it is so common even for us in our everyday life to complain about eating the same food everyday, or getting bored of other such things. The Bani Israel are mentioned in the Quran so that we learn what we should avoid doing, so as to gain the pleasure of Allah! Yet we continue doing the same, without even realizing. We should always be grateful for what we have, and consider it a blessing from Allah. It is a sunnah of the Prophet (SAW) that he never ever complained about the food he got, whatever it may be. He was always thankful, and knew that when you start to complain, you deny Allah's blessings on you.

It says in ayah 61 that the Bani Israel "[repeatedly] disbelieved in the signs of Allah and killed the prophets without right". Now, it may seems that, since in our time, we don't have any prophets, we would not be able to follow this act. However, it is possible. This is by killing the sunnah of the Prophet (SAW). We have various ahadith which talk about how the Messenger (SAW) used to talk, eat, sleep, walk, and pretty much everything else. Not following it is killing it, and following it is bringing to life the sunnah of the Prophet (SAW).

Verse 62 highlights Allah's mercy, as He claims that if any Jew, Christian or Sabean (star worshipers before Muhammad (SAW)'s time) convert and believe in Allah and the Last Day, then all of their past life will be erased and they will start off a new Muslims. Allah will reward them, and they will not have to fear or grieve. This is also a blessing from Allah.

The next blessing is in verse 63, which says, " And recall when We took your covenant {O Bani Israel, to abide by the Torah] and We raised over you the mount, [saying], 'Take what We have given you with determination and remember what is in it that perhaps you may become righteous." This ties back in to what we mentioned previously, that the Bani Israel asked Musa (AS) to ask Allah for a Book to abide to the Law, after the demise of Pharaoh. When they received the Torah, they saw that the rules were very strict. They actually needed such rules because the majority of them was a disobedient group who did not listen to Allah's commandments. After seeing these rulings, they said that we should just do as much as we can, Allah will forgive us for what we can't follow. This is something common people say in this day and age as well when disobeying what is written in the Quran. Eventually the Bani Israel stopped following the rules in the Torah because they thought it was too difficult. The covenant was that the Bani Israel had previously agreed to follow what Allah says, and now they were disagreeing, therefore breaking the covenant. Allah then raised a mountain over their heads and said they are breaking the covenant, and if they don't follow it they will be crushed. that is what it took for them to believe, after these numerous clear signs from Allah.

The next ayah says that they went back to the their old ways after this incident, and if it wasn't for Allah's mercy, they would have been among the losers. Allah's mercy will only descend upon us if we follow the Shariah. If we are not following the Islamic Law yet we have a good life, then it a merely a test, not a blessing. The various stories of the Bani Israel are not in the Quran for our entertainment. We have to learn from them, to avoid having the same consequences as them. These stories are a serious and harsh reminder of the power and mercy of Allah. We should read these narrations and reflect about whether we have been thankful for the food Allah has blessed us with, or do we say we're sick of stuff? Are we really fulfilling the Shariah of Allah or are we making excuses that we live in a different time and place from 1400 years ago, so we will be excused? Or that Allah will forgive us and we don't need to worry about it? These are the same things the Bani Israel said.

i) We are still discussing the Bani Israel and what they were like in Musa (AS)'s time
ii) They disobeyed Allah in various incidents. The first one for today is changing the words that Allah told them to say, therefore not asking for forgiveness.
iii)One of the numerous blessings given to the Bani Israel include 12 springs of water which gushed forth when Musa (AS) hit his staff on a particular rock.
iv)Yet the Bani Israel continued to complain that they want more variety in their food, and were not thankful for what they had.
v)Because they continued to consistently disobey Allah, Allah had to raise a mountain over their heads to make them obey Him. It was the only way to make them follow Allah because they were so rebellious.
vi)We need to learn from these stories and make sure that we are not behaving like those who angered Allah.

May Allah (SWT) give us the tawfiq to learn lessons from these stories and help us always to strive for His pleasure. Ameen.